Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Eleven Years and the Best Two Day Vacation Ever

On Sunday Steve and I celebrated our eleven year anniversary. I love that we got married on Labor Day weekend, which entitles us to a three day weekend pretty much every anniversary. This year we went to Boracay. To sweeten the deal we won a two night stay at a fabulous resort when Steve bought a boatload of raffle tickets at a charity raffle about six months ago. Since it wasn't a local holiday, the place was nearly deserted.

It would sound cheesy to call our get away magical, but that's the best way I can describe it.

We were greeted with fresh Dalandan juice and puka shell necklaces.

Best room, hands down...ever.

Same goes for the beach.

We ended our stay watching Fire Dancers on the beach. Sigh...

Friday, July 23, 2010


Last week we had the joy of more Langleys in town. Steve's older brother Christian came for a visit with his wife Katrin and their three adorable boys Tom, Timmy and Terrence all the way from Berlin. They rented a beautiful house high up in the Rattlesnake area complete with an entire third floor that doubled as a giant game room/kid paradise.

The five boys playing together reminded me of the summer days that I spent playing with my own cousins. The kind of days that were packed with fun until bedtime. Aside from the game room, there was soccer, dirt clod throwing, rock throwing and all the general mayhem that comes with five boys playing out on the side of a mountain.

While the kids played, the grown-ups sat around doing what we do best; drinking, eating, talking. We were fortunate enough to have Steve's sister and her family and my sweet friend Karen in from Seattle at the same time. The only thing missing was Steve.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Henry's New Favorite Toy

I did not buy Henry a gun. He bought it with his own money. I always swore I would never let my kids play with toy guns. People told me it would be unstoppable. They will use a stick, they will use their fingers. They will aim their half eaten toast at you at the breakfast table. Well, it's all true. We've had water "squirters", laser "blasters" and even nerf guns (which are also cleverly marketed as "blasters"), but this is our family's first realistic looking gun. We are in Montana and I guess a rifle just felt right to Henry.

Today I let him take it over to the park across the street to play. I felt a little uneasy walking onto the playground with my gun toting preschooler, but why? Almost every little boy I know loves guns. Didn't we play with guns (yes, even girls) when we were kids? Check out this article from Mothering magazine which my dear friend Audrey, mother of three boys, pointed out to me a couple of years ago.

Henry seems pretty comfortable with it. I snapped this photo of him last night, after he asked if he could please have his gun so he could snuggle with it. He's a very sensitive and nurturing boy who cares for his gun.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Big Sky Country

We are spending our summer in Missoula, Montana. Steve was able to save up three weeks of leave and stay for most of June, and now the boys and I are on our own until the end of July.

Missoula is a special place for our family. Steve and I both graduated from the University of Montana. We were married here, and it's Truman's birthplace (he's fond of reminding us he's the only one from here). We have family and friends still living here, and we could fill many hours reminiscing happy memories and funny stories. Now we're busy making more.

To say we are having a great time is an understatement. We were able to find a great little house to rent for the two months that we'll be here. We have two parks within walking distance, a school with a great place to play soccer right at the end of our block, and best of all a yard! We are within walking distance to the local Farmer's Market and downtown. The weather is cool, and the air smells so fresh and piney it almost makes you cry everytime you walk outside. We are outside a lot. From hiking and biking to just eating dinner out on the deck, we are in heaven.

We are in full vacation mode. The sun doesn't set here until after 10pm and we're usually all still up to watch it sink behind the mountains. On a normal day we manage a leisurely breakfast around 10:30. We've decided it's probably a good idea to eat ice cream everyday too, especially since Missoula has the best ice cream ever. The boys have become master hikers and Truman has put countless miles on his bike. Some days are filled with doing "nothing". These are the days when the boys catch spiders, try to catch birds and trap squirrels (no luck!), play in the dirt, have water gun, balloon and, strangely, pinecone fights.

Have I mentioned we love it here?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Mt. Pinatubo

Last Saturday we headed up to Mt. Pinatubo with our friends Jeff and Jaime who were visiting from Chicago. We thought we were going to be in for a long hot grueling hike up a volcano. Instead we barely survived the roughest, bumpiest, dustiest jeep ride you could ever try to imagine up to a trail head where we enjoyed a twenty minute, easy, mostly shady hike.

The view from the top of the crater was beautiful. After a few pictures we headed down for a much needed swim to rinse of the dust from the ride up. The boys are happy they can now honestly say they have gone swimming in a volcano.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

What They Don't Tell You

For those of you who are thinking of visiting the Philippines I've come up with a list of interesting things about the Philippines that were never mentioned in any of the travel guides I read before moving here.

1. Filipinos love music. I mean they LOVE music. Mostly easy listening it seems, and eighties new wave. Steve has compared living here to walking around in a musical, and that seems appropriate. While out shopping recently a particularly moving song came on the sound system, as if on cue-every one of the staff joined in the singing. Steve encountered Ricky Martin in a taxi recently, which is only odd because usually it's a little softer. Some standout favorites we've noticed while riding in taxis around Manila are: Air Supply, Richard Marx, Journey, Heart (esp. "Alone"), The Eagles, The Cranberries and Dido. I don't know if I should be as proud as I am that I find myself singing right along with them. Initially the grocery stores seemed to be on the easy listening train, though it seems that toy stores opt for hardcore rap, replete with explicit lyrics while you are shopping with your young children.

2. I've yet to figure out the method of how the grocery stores are organized. If I find the peanut butter, I feel like jelly should be a given. But no, not even close. Many things are like this. You would think if you find the ketchup, then you've found the mustard. Again, no. To make things even more confusing, certain things (say, cereal) are found in more than one aisle of the store. You may find some varieties of one kind of food (maybe cornflakes) after looking everything over and making a decision based on what's in front of you, you then head 10 aisles over and discover what you really wanted (muesli!). This may seem like a small thing, and really it is. But mix in an over abundant staff, hordes of other people blocking the aisle and a good dose of blaring music (think rave) and you've got a recipe for a serious headache. I'm sure there's a very logical system, but at this point I'm doubtful I'm going to figure it out.

4. Speaking of shopping. Generally speaking, Filipinos are superbly helpful and accommodating. Never in my life have so many people wanted to help me when I'm out shopping. Need a bathmat? Instantaneously forty will be displayed for your approval. A pair of underwear for your three year old? A parade of helpful staff are there with every style plus suggestions for any and every other clothing item that might strike your fancy. Once you've made your selections you head to the cashier where your items are carefully rung up by one cashier, while another one, after carefully inspecting the price tag, checks (literally) the tag with a red pen. The items are placed in a bag which has special tabs that are tied closed (no exception!). You sign two receipts and a third one is stapled to your bag. If you're buying electronics, it's going to be a longer process as it -naturally-needs to be tested and purchase double checked in a different department completely. Meanwhile, another employee stands by with a notebook making sure everything is taken care of properly and duly recorded. As a side note I need to mention all women employees at one particular shop are dressed in sea foam green dresses (not unlike a flight attendant) with pearl earrings, and a lot of makeup. Now that I'm thinking about it, it seems like they can't ALL be wearing the same outfit in ALL stores, but in my mind that's really how it seems. I'm going to have to look into it. Either way, it's kind of awesome.

5. Filipino names are all across the board. Steve gets to talk to a lot of people at work, and thereby gets to hear more names than I do. I'm not embarrassed to say that I enjoy asking what the best names of the day were. After quizzing Steve and perusing various magazines, here are a few favorites: Dingdong, Baby James, Tootsy, Love, Jon Bong Jovi, Ice Cream, Beam, Camry and M5. The latter a particular fave to Steve. I am in no way making fun of these names. Quite the opposite. I love the idea of naming your baby after something you really love or a happy sound. If I had a baby here maybe I would name him Little Cupcake, or maybe I would hyphenate and go with Cutie-Face. Too bad we're not having any more...

6. We are lucky enough to have a dishwasher in our house. While at Ace Hardware yesterday, Steve discovered this is a somewhat uncommon occurrence. He was looking for general cleaning supplies, and asked where he could find dishwasher detergent. He was promptly surrounded by a helpful group trying to figure out what he was after. After being shown various kinds of dish soap (the kind you hand wash with), cans of Ajax, and even laundry detergent, the group of employees called over the manager. With nearly the entire staff gathered around him, he tried to explain what he was looking for. The manager also suggested the Ajax was a good idea. Can't you just picture the whole thing? Hilarious!

Our friends Jeff and Jaime are coming to visit tomorrow, I probably should have written this earlier. Still, I think they'll enjoy the first hand experience.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Guess Where We're Headed!

Wow, I guess I've fallen off of the blogging wagon. I'm going to take a new approach: Shorter and more frequent posts. I promise. At least I promise to try.

We've been in Manila for over a year now. We have less than a year before we leave. The big news is where we're headed next- Finland! Pretty sure it's the polar (pun intended) opposite of the Philippines. In ten short months we'll be saying goodbye to our days of worshiping the tropical sun and hello to freezing temperatures and pathetically huddling together in the sauna. Actually we are super-duper, extremely, really, excited! Our neighbors will be Santa and his reindeer, and it's the perfect jumping off place for some great destinations. Woo-hoo!
See you soon!